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ADOLPHUS HOTEL & THE FRENCH ROOM An Extraordinary Historic Dallas Landmark by Kaya Morgan

Larger than the countries of France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Luxembourg combined — are we surprised to find that everything in Texas is bigger than life? Not really! When we think of American's historic old West with campfire stories of the original cowboys, we always think of — you guessed it — Texas. Cowboys and other wild, brave frontier people helped build Dallas, which grew from a small trading post to become the ninth largest city in the U.S. That pioneer spirit and attitude for success has helped Dallas progress from those early days of its great western history with a way of life that still endures today.

The great state of Texas ranks second only to California as a U.S. pleasure travel destination and state-of-the-art, culturally-rich city where visitors are likely to get more than they expect. Less than four hours by air from most major cities in the U.S., Dallas is known to have more ways to have fun — the Six Flags Over Texas theme park is larger than Disneyland; more shopping centers per capita than any other major U.S. city; and, with over 9,000 restaurants to enjoy, it has four times more restaurants per person than New York City. Home to the famed Dallas Cowboys football team — winners of five Super Bowl championships, Texas is also the state with the fourth largest total number of golf courses in the U.S., including a long list of professional golfers who call the it their home — Justin Leonard, Bruce Lietzke, David Graham, Lannie Wadkins and D.A. Weibring as well as LPGA Hall of Famers Sandra Haynie and Kathy Whitworth.

So, where do we begin to experience a true taste of Texas? Well, you could get into the mood by starting out at one of the city's many western stores to get clothed in an authentic cowboy hat, jeans, western shirt and boots, then head for a real western-style trail ride and authentic campfire cookout. Of course, after a long day on the prairie, what could be better than a comfortable place to hang your hat and kick off those dusty boots? This is where the Texas of old ends and the new Texas begins, and you can expect to make the jump to one of America's highest rated establishments.

Fortune, flamboyance, opulence and fame came together in 1912 when founder, Missouri beer baron Adolphus Busch chose to honor Dallas with the grande dame of hotels in unabashed baroque splendor. Critics have called this Texas landmark "the most beautiful building west of Venice," while the New York Times describes it as "a Louis XV fantasy on the prairie." Originally built on the site of the 1880s Dallas City Hall, the Hotel Adolphus has been home to a bevy of the rich and famous from Aline, the Countess of Romanones, Amelia Earhart, Talullah Bankhead, Yul Brynner, Gene Autry and F.D.R. to President George and Barbara Bush, and a list that includes virtually everyone imaginable. The hotel's Century Room wowed guests with entertainers like Rudolph Valentino, Jack Benny, Dale Evans, Liberace and Edith Piaf.

The hotel and its top restaurant, The French Room, has won virtually every architectural, interior design and hospitality award in the industry. Exquisite objets d'art meet the eye at every turn with nineteenth century chinoiserie, Louis XV rococo chairs, a bronze Dore Gueridon table, early Flemish tapestries, gold-leaf trimmed silk draperies, a Napoleon II mirror and an ornately carved Steinway that once graced the New York home of the Guggenheim family. The Venetian-glass, crystal chandeliers of 17th century design were hand-blown in Murano, Italy, by descendants of craftsmen who made the famous originals more than 300 years ago while the verde monte marble flooring was imported from the Orient. Scores of rich art treasures such as these also enrich the atmosphere of the Lobby Living Room, creating a museum-quality collection for guests' enjoyment against an opulent backdrop of hand-painted ceiling murals with clouds and lyres, horns, drums mandolins and sheet music, that span the high, carved and gilded, arched ceilings.

Fine dining has always been a key element in the stellar reputation of the Adolphus Hotel. In 1916, its original Bambooland restaurant featured an elegant seven-course lunch for just 75 cents. The menu offered a choice of at least six dishes in each category. While today, The French Room has become Dallas's highest rated fine dining establishment. Nationally recognized and critically acclaimed by Zagat, Conde' Nast Traveler, Gourmet Magazine's "Top Tables" and Travel & Leisure's "America's Top 50 Restaurants" and as "One of the 25 Best Restaurants in the World," few restaurants have received such high accolades. Even entering the French Room Bar can be a mesmerizing experience. The dark Mahogany wood paneling dramatizes the lighter colors in many of the rare and historic paintings and art treasures that remain as part of the Hotel Adolphus private collection.

Under the guidance of Executive Chef, William Koval, this luxury restaurant's sumptuous culinary delights continue to dazzle the palate while, at the same time, providing impeccable service. Graduating at the top of his class from the Culinary Institute of America and a native of Waterbury, Connecticut, Koval was the youngest executive chef, at age 25, to join the Ritz-Carlton Hotel team. His mentor, Franz Mitterer, the renowned Austrian chef, was instrumental in arranging Koval's tutelage with the French master chefs at the Hotel Le Bristol in Paris. "I wasn't born knowing how to cook," says Koval. "I just traveled the country, seeing things, trying things, right things and wrong things. What I've learned is that trends come and go, but there are certain traditions, like the French tradition of cooking, that are here to stay."

The New American menu joins classic techniques with flavors and ingredients from the world over with never more than three flavors on a plate. This philosophy makes dishes sound much more complicated than they look or taste — for example, the smoked European breast of quail appetizer stuffed with roasted red pepper and parmesan cheese, wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and served with caramelized endive polenta on a balsamic red currant sauce, or the tantalizing sautéed Sonoma Valley foie gras with fresh peaches and toasted pistachio on a Riesling wine sauce that combine an intriguing array of flavors.

The entrée selections are extensive and can make you almost forget what country you're in, with outstanding choices such as the macadamia nut and herb-roasted, farm raised Maine salmon with fresh artichoke, asparagus, capers and rosemary Yukon gold potatoes; the roasted Long Island duck breast with seared foi gras on sugar cured butternut squash with dried cherry marsala sauce; or the roasted Texas venison loin served with a rosemary potato dumpling on a wild huckleberry, apple and beet reduction sauce that is flavorful but not overpowering; and a particularly enticing vegetarian menu with a fresh yellow corn, wild mushroom tart with a basil whipped potato Napoleon and sautéed savor cabbage in a fresh beet and apple sauce.

To complete the fare are house specialties of french valrhona guanaja, hot chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream and a roasted pineapple sauce, or a vanilla bean crème brûlée with a mini warm almond cake and orange sorbet.

The wine list is extensive but focused with some of the most expensive French and American wines available on the market. There are even a few ancient French Bordeaux vintages of 1928 and 1899 that are virtually impossible to find anywhere in the world today. Yet there are also many wonderful, moderately priced options. With a consistent reputation for both cuisine and service, a visit to this renowned restaurant will become a special memory to cherish.

For reservations contact 800.221.9083 or go to

More stories by journalist, Kaya Morgan, can be found by clicking the link. Contact us for reprint rights as most articles are available.

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